Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bohemian Rhapsody

Warning: A wordy post! 
This is the year I emphasize on aesthetic. I have to admit I don't have a signature style and have been very introspective of my design choices to help me find one if such a thing is possible. I find a lot of different styles appealing and the variety in my quilts depict that. I can find a quilt that borders on traditional, to the one that's post modern equally appealing.

One way to ascertain your preference is to preview your Pinterest board and see if you can spot a trend.  I found that I mainly tend to pin quilts made only with solids, however when it comes to making quilts I almost never consider a solid only quilt. My favorite color is purple but I have almost no purple fabric.

So what is it that drives the choice and pattern of the quilts I make. So far it is experimentation. I love working with different types of fabric. I usually start with the fabric and that drives the design. It's rarely the other way around.

For instance, I love the feel of homespun cotton. I bought a few yards and that led to the making of my flying geese quilt. Simple timeless fabric, simple timeless pattern. The same goes for the wonky cross quilt. I had not worked with such a limited palette or quantity of fabric and that led to a very sparse looking quilt. The fat quarter bundle of Hometown by Sweetwater reminded me of Old Glory and that led to the Variable Star Quilt.

Along the same lines, I recently acquired a jelly roll of AMH's True Colors and that led to the making of this quilt. The monochromatic nature of True Colors fabric line appealed to me. When I looked at the fabric for the first time I was taken up by its bohemian appeal. I was reminded of this beauty  by Jolene from Blue Elephant Stitches. I am a huge fan.

While I put the blocks together I was surprised how well it matched with some of Joel Dewberry's older fabric lines. 

For the backing I picked an equally bohemian looking fabric from his collection, a color that was certainly out of my comfort zone.

I also decided to hand quilt with variegated Perle cotton as it would complement the hand crafted look of the fabric. This quilt truly reminds me of something that would be paraphernalia in a gypsy wagon. It would also be the first quilt I name - calling it Bohemian Rhapsody.

For the binding I used a combination of the lighter prints from AMH's True Colors line and the low volume fabrics.

After a quick spin in the washer the quilt has a real soft feel to it and probably this will be the one I keep for myself.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Infinity Scarves

I have been seeing infinity scarves all over blogland, they seemed to make the perfect Christmas gift. Last year Lori and I had purchased this amazingly soft dual sided homespun fabric on our day out in Manhattan to be made into infinity scarves but I never got around to making them. Finally inspired by all the scarves I saw over the holidays I bundled down and made these.

The fabric is dual sided as in the front and back of the fabric are two different pattern and color. Since it's homespun its squishy soft and feels great around the neck.

These scarves are so incredibly easy to make and really fashionable to wear.

Linking up to: Finish It Friday

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A memory filled t-shirt quilt

My first finish of the year has been a very special quilt for a friend of mine. This project was one we started way back last year, a quilt to commemorate her swimming accolades from high school. Some how after some initial flurry of activity earlier in the year it became a UFO. As my resolution for this year - to re-visit my WIPs and with a little bit of insistence from her we got cracking on it once again.

Finally a good day to take some pictures. Here against the bleak winter sky the quilt really stands out.

I am happy to report the quilt is 100% made from her well loved t-shirts even the binding. We pieced all the left over bits as binding.

Looking at it, I cannot imagine how much of a trip down memory lane it must be for her to have a comprehensive look at all her high school swimming events and relive the good times. As for me this was my first truly collaborative quilt and I enjoyed every minute of it. So much better than quilting alone.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

16 Spool Year

Early last year I had come across this blog post about saving your spools for the year. I thought this would be a fun exercise. I am not sure if it signifies much in terms of your productivity as the spools can differ vastly in size. One cone can equal 20 tiny spools but anyway gives you a sense of how many stitches your sewing machine churned out. That workhorse!!!!

I had a 16 spool year. Most of the thread was used for sewing and piecing. The cardboard spools are for machine quilting thread. Based on the density of FMQ you can go through thread rather quickly.

Since we are on the subject of numbers I wonder how many needles/rotary cutter blades everyone uses per year. Most of the talk is centered around the cost of fabric but I find myself spending quite a bit on rotary cutter blades too. The Olfa blades cost more than the Fiskars ones and I find they both last about the same. I also find myself going through quite a few sewing needles in a year. Especially size 70/11 that I use for piecing and 80/11 that I use for quilting. I mainly use Schmetz needles and thankfully they are not expensive.

I would be interested in knowing how much you spend on basic notions such as thread, needles and cutting blades and what thoughts you may have on sourcing these items for less than full retail. 

The year that was....

It is always good to look back on the year and reflect on how far one has come.

Year 2013 was a bit of an odd ball. I was not as productive in terms finishes but I really honed my quilting/sewing skills all year. I am now confident of some basic techniques and going forward can focus more on the aesthetic. Nothing is more exasperating than having an idea but not having the skills to execute it. My workmanship has improved considerably since I started sewing and can now concentrate on establishing or identifying my style. This definitely going to be the focus of 2014.

Highlights of the year:

1) Sawtooth star quilt 2) Wonky cross quilt 3) Disappearing 9 patch quilt 4) Plus quilt 5) Improv quilt 6) Drunkards path mini quilt 7) Iron caddy 8) Cushion cover 9) Small tote bag  10) Baby coverlet 11) Burp cloths 12) Tag blanket

I am particularly proud of my Variable Sawtooth Star quilt this year. It was the biggest project of the year and I am glad I was able to persevere through it.

I was part of two quilting bees this year in which I was forced to trying things I would not have otherwise. I am totally enjoying this experience and would do it over and over again.

I was also part of a paper piecing quilt along with Elizabeth Dackson of Don't Call Me Betsy. I did not finish all the blocks to date but definitely picked up paper piecing.

New skills I learnt this year:
  • Paper piecing
  • Y - seams
  • Curve piecing
  • Machine binding
  • Finished a king sized quilt with FMQ on my domestic sewing machine.
  • Color theory - picking fabric bundles and stash essentials

I do have a lot of unfinished projects this year, something I need to improve upon next year. 2014 is going to be my year of unfinished projects.

Last but not the least, I a big shout out to all my blog readers and friends who have encouraged me with their comments. For 2014, my blog has an updated look. I also have a nifty logo for my blog. A big thank you to Shaina Longstreet at Shadylane Blog for helping me on this. She was real easy to work with and very accessible. I would definitely recommend her to anyone looking for a facelift for their blog. I am digging the new simplified look. Here is a link to my new Facebook page. Check it out!

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and looking forward to more quilting in 2014! What are your plans for the new year?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Scrap-bee-licious January Bee Block

A very happy new year everyone!!!! What better way to start the year than as the "queen" for Scrap-bee-licious bee this month. I am thrilled to be included as part of this very talented group of ladies. 

For my turn I just had to pick the feather block by Anna Maria Horner. The free tutorial can be downloaded from here. The patchwork tutorial is for two feathers per block, but I am asking only for two feathers. Please do not join the two feather blocks together. Each block finishes at 9.5" x 18.5" including 1/4" seam allowance. If the block does not measure up in the end don't worry, I can always adjust the size later.

A quick tutorial on how to maximize the fabric for the feathers can be found here.

Now for the fun part, colors.

Feather:  Bold, jewel tone colors. You can choose as many or as few as you would like. AMH fabric is not a requirement. Here is a sampling of a few colors you can choose or any other color that qualifies as a bold color.

The center stem can be any dark colored fabric.

Background: Anything beige, eggshell, cream, bone or low volume fabric with a similar creamy undertone. It can be a solid or a print. The look I am going for is similar to this lovely quilt made by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches. It's almost like she read my mind on this one.
I would prefer not having bright white or light gray/blue background for the blocks. If you have trouble finding fabric for the background, let me know I can mail you some.

I gave the block a try to ascertain what my fellow bee members were in for. Actually the block is easier to make than it looks. The key is to remember to cut the left side of the feather as a mirror image of the right side.

This is how I cut the feather template.

The right side of the feather.

Left side of the feather, as a mirror image of the left.

I used sticky tape to secure the template to the fabric before cutting. This prevented it from moving around.

Essentially when cutting the right side of the feather place the templates as

And for the left side place them as, mirror image of the above.

The completed block.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you all. Looking forward to see what you come up with.